Charlestown Township, Chester County, PA

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Established June 2, 1997
by citizens for citizens


March 16, 1998

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August 13, 1997
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Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association

The Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association (R&T) is holding its 49th Annual Threshermen's Reunion this week at its large grounds along Route 30 in Kinzer, PA, less than an hour's drive from Charlestown.
This event is impossible to adequately describe, but we will give you a few photographic glimpses of this year's reunion. (See photos from the 50th Reunion by clicking here.) This year there are at least 25 huge steam and kerosene powered mammoth antique tractors used around the turn of the century to plow large fields and drive various pieces of equipment via long belts. All of these beasts are actually running, whether sitting idle or parading around the grounds. They are so silent they can sneak up to within a few feet behind you if you are not looking.
Add at least 125 gasoline and kerosene powered more traditional antique farm tractors, from the earliest creations up to the '60s, of all makes, colors, sizes, shapes and configurations, and all in good to as-new, fully restored condition. Then there must be over 200 small (stationary) antique gas engines, most of the "hit and miss" variety, and some powering the most unusual contraptions you can imagine.
Several buildings house permanent exhibits of large stationary steam and gas engines with huge flywheels that powered electric generators or entire manufacturing plants (via pulleys and belts) in their day. Most of these are in running condition, and this week, many are actually running.
Some of the more fascinating operational exhibits include a fully functioning, steam powered saw mill. You can watch as men load logs on to the "carrier" and feed it through the blade, making many passes to yield a stack of lumber. This year the mill is powered by a stationary steam engine, though in years past we have seen one of the huge steam engined tractors driving the mill via a long belt.
Another fun exhibit is the thrashing of grain and bailing the straw via a monster thrashing machine with integrated bailer that is powered via a long belt by whichever steam tractor has been assigned the task at any given moment.
In addition to all of the "real" stuff, there are several areas devoted to models of the various types of steam powered engines. There is a miniature steam engine railroad with a track covering about a half acre and taking the kids for rides, and a full size steam engine that traverses most of the grounds on its track, carrying passengers of all ages.
Speaking of ages, one of the mammoth steam tractors in the daily afternoon parade appeared to have four generations of its owner's family on board. It's great to see many of the younger generations picking up the responsibility for maintaining and exhibiting these antiques.
Below you will find some links to a few photos from this year's reunion.

49th Reunion Photo Album
For photos of the 50th Reunion (1998) click here.

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